Kocaman: "It's A Sign of Fundamental Changes For Fener"Interview • Author: Mehmet Pozam • Friday, July 2, 2010
Shortly after his new appointment as team coach, Yellow Canaries manager Aykut Kocaman gave an exclusive interview to Fenerbahçe Magazine. In this month's edition, Kocaman speaks about his new and extended role at the club, what changes it will bring and what Fenerbahçe's targets will be in the new season. "Our aim is to create an entertaining team that plays rapid football," said Kocaman.
Three-time Turkish League topscorer, legendary Fenerbahçe striker Aykut Kocaman will from now on act as both sporting director and team coach. Fenerbahçe Magazine recently interviewed newly appointed Yellow Canaries manager Aykut Kocaman, as he revealed all about his new role at the club and what Fenerbahçe aims to acheive in the new season and in seasons to come.
Fenerbahçe Magazine: We first knew you as a topscorer at Fenerbahçe, then as a successful Turkcell Süper Lig manager and lastly as Fenerbahçe’s sporting director. Now we meet you again with a new title. You now sit in the hot seat of Turkey’s most popular and one of Europe’s top clubs, Fenerbahçe. What type of person will Fenerbahçe manager Aykut Kocaman be?
Aykut Kocaman: First of all, I was always the same person in all those roles and titles you listed, I was the same Aykut Kocaman. Time has of course added things to me, changed some things in me, made me different but I was always the same Aykut Kocaman when I was a footballer at Fenerbahçe, when I was a manager in the Turkcell Süper Lig and when I was Sporting Director at Fenerbahçe. At least, that's what I believe. Nothing has changed for me. I don’t reckon that my principles, my philosophy on life or my understanding of responsability has ever changed. In fact, to give an ironic answer to your question, my philosophy on life is to be able to remain the same person, to always have the same principles. The Aykut Kocaman that people saw ten or fifteen years ago, when I was a footballer at Fenerbahçe will also be the same Aykut Kocaman they see now. There won’t be so much change for myself, but there will be for Fenerbahçe. Fenerbahçe has started a new season with a Turkish coach for the first time in ten years after Mustafa Denizli. Fenerbahçe has opened the new season for the first time with a former player in the hot seat, eleven years after my team-mate Rıdvan Dilmen was appointed. Fenerbahçe has appointed a Turkish coach for the first time, seven or eight years after other former teammates of mine, Turhan Sofuoğlu, Oğuz Çetin and Tamer Güney. I think this is a much more important difference and this will be the fundamental thing that will shape Fenerbahçe’s different appearance in the upcoming period. Administrators in Fenerbahçe’s management have taken a radical decision in appointing a Turkish coach, a former player after foreign, careered coaches on international level. I think this important decision should be regarded as a sign of fundamental changes.
Q: The Fenerbahçe management already took a radical decision at the start of last season, bringing the sporting director institution to Turkey, implementing that at Fenerbahçe and appointing you to that role. Now that you are manager, is it going to be the end of the sporting director institution? Or has it just changed in appearance?
A: No, there’s no such thing. The sporting director institution hasn’t been laid aside. There has only been a change in its format. In other words, you can define me as both Fenerbahçe’s sporting director and its manager. If you remember, last season I had spoken about the sporting director institution, pointing out: “In Turkey, clubs would previously stand on two pillars. One of them was the president and the club management, the other was the team manager. From now on, there is a third pillar added onto this. The sporting director role has emerged as a requirement of the new age and industrialised football.” Nothing has changed. We haven't gone backwards in the ages, nor has Fenerbahçe changed, nor have my responsabilities been lowered. We can define a sporting director as a professional that takes all the decisions for a specific branch. The first team to try this in Turkey was Fenerbahçe and there were some things that were acheived. Of course, as with every new process there were some difficulties. No novelty can be expected to be actualized very easily. This is the same in Turkey and all around the world and this doesn’t only go for football. This is how things are in every area in life. I think the sporting director institution will be permanent at Fenerbahçe and that it will be beneficiary for the club. I used to work only as a sporting director at Fenerbahçe. My work was already going to continue, but now it’s just that my work and responsabilities have increased.
Q: There were a lot of things written in the press about Fenerbahçe last season. Just when everything had seemed to end for Fenerbahçe, a sudden change in the wind brought the championship back into our hands. A cup finale that was lost and then a championship that was lost in an incredible way, the big shock in the aftermath, an atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty and also even the false announcement. And lastly, all that happened with former coach Daum. It was as if Fenerbahçe was cursed. The last 1,5-2 months was like a horror movie for Fenerbahçe. What would you like to say about all this?
A: Look, there’s no point in digging up the past. Getting stuck in the past is no use for anyone or any institution. Yes, Fenerbahçe went through unbelievable events or all that had happened, brought Fenerbahçe somewhere. Missing up on winning the championship can be seen as a misfortune in football. As you said, just when everything was lost, a series of victories had brought the championship back into our hands. When you consider a big club like Fenerbahçe, all that happened after that huge shock should be seen as normal. All of that meant to have happened; and so it did. This is how we should interpret it. Of course, there have been lessons that were learnt and notes that were taken. We worked together for a year with Mr. Daum for Fenerbahçe. His role and responsabilities were defined and so were my role and responsabilities. That subject is now in the past. However, all that happened afterwards, that process shouldn’t be seen as a bargain, or even a money bargain. The press issued reports from that angle, but interpreting what happened as a necessity of professional life would be better. This point of view would be a better approach for both Fenerbahçe and Mr. Daum. Just like any professional, Daum too defended his rights, there were talks between both parties and sides reached an agreement. This is how things should be interpreted. Did the big picture that emerged from this harm Fenerbahçe’s image? Yes, maybe at a first glance that is how it looked like. But just like I said before, such processes of change in major clubs like Fenerbahçe don’t actualize flawlessly.
Q: You've mentioned about change. A Turkish coach taking over the team, even so a Turkish coach who is a former player of the team. How will this change reflect to Fenerbahçe?
A: We’ve opened the season, begun our practices. The pre-season camp and the friendlies played during that pre-season preparation period are very important for a team. I stepped into this club 20 years ago. I’ve coached several teams in Turkish leagues and for the past year, I’ve worked at Fenerbahçe as sporting director. All these goes to show that there Fenerbahçe won’t be needing any period of time at the start of the season for making acquaintances, bonding and adapting, there won’t be a period of loss like there is for every other team. This is our biggest advantage at the beginning. I know the team, the league and the structure of Turkish football; this is an advantage. I will continue all my work from over the last year as sporting director, also taking the responsability of being the manager. This is also an advantage, meaning there won’t be any interruption, only that the scope of things will change. Knowing the team as an insider will also be very useful. The beginning of this change will happen quickly due to my advantage of knowing the team well. When I say change; I don’t mean ‘we will change this way’, ‘we will change that way’. We will live the change and it will be others telling us that we have changed, not ourselves.
Q: Then, let's ask about the transfers. First of all, will the transfers continue? What do you want to say about our new recruited players Miroslav Stoch and İlhan Eker? Apart from the new transfers, what else would you like to say about Fenerbahçe’s football game plan and targets for this season?
A: They say, “Transfers never end at Fenerbahçe”. In a sense, this is true. A big club like Fenerbahçe should already be thinking about next season and even seasons to come, just like it thinks about the next match or other matches to come. For that reason, yes, transfers never end at Fenerbahçe. There will be other new players coming in this season. It could be after the team assembles and we see our deficiencies or it could be later, or it could be right now. Transfers are also about timing. When you find the right player, for the right price, at the right time, you need to buy him. We had already been tracking Stoch for a long time. Stoch joined our ranks after a successful teamwork. İlhan Eker too was again on our radar for quite a while and we also completed his transfer. İlhan Eker will eliminate the deficiencies in our defence. Stoch will also be making major contributions to the team with his youth, talent, dynamism, pace with and without the ball and his high self-confidence. Fenerbahçe has always been a team composed of star players with very high technical abilities. Apart from technical ability, this year we also want to add a fast-thinking and rapid game plan. What I can comment about our football structure for now, is that our aim is to create an entertaining team that plays rapid football. Our new players will also join in to this understanding.
Q: So what would you like to say about our targets?
A: Fenerbahçe never starts a season saying, “This year I will finish in second place”. Fenerbahçe’s goal is always reaching the highest point where the bar stands. This goes for both Turkey and for European competitions. Fenerbahçe’s target is winning championships and lifting trophies. But in life, current conditions and requirements can push you towards determining your priorities. However, your initial target doesn’t change. Ours is championships in every field we compete in, and always winning. Esthetics is also always a priority for Fenerbahçe. Fenerbahçe supporters love victories with bags of goals, they give importance to entertaining football and spectacular movements during the game, they want to see all of these on the field. They feel the excitement of the team and live that excitement together with them. We can say that we have set off for the best targets in each competition with a style of football that will please Fenerbahçe supporters, fans, our management and the whole community.
Q: Maybe you’ve already given a lot of messages in our short conversation, but is there anything else you want to add, messages you want to give to our fans?
A: Sure. I believe that we will bond well with our fans, I can even see this from now. What I will ask from them and what I will tell them is this: They should forget about what happened last season, how that championship was lost. They should forget about those bad times. They should always remember how big and strong Fenerbahçe is. With the joy that comes with a fresh new beginning, they should have faith in us and be confident in us, so we can celebrate all our success together.
(Interview and photo courtesy of Fenerbahçe Magazine; Translation by Mehmet Pozam)